15 things CHS heard at the chamber’s Capitol Hill Homelessness Forum

Thursday’s panel on stage at the Broadway Performance Hall (Image: Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce)

A small crowd gathered in the Broadway Performance Hall Thursday night for a forum on homelessness hosted by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce as the crisis continues to grow.

Representatives from a number of organizations looking to aid people who are homeless, including the REACH program, the Seattle Police Department’s Navigation Team, and the Unsheltered Crisis Response Team, discussed the strategies they’re currently utilizing, while attendees wanted answers as to why an issue that’s been declared a citywide emergency for three years isn’t getting better.

The event was moderated by Egan Orion, newly selected as the chamber’s director and a candidate for Seattle City Council.

With 12,112 homeless people counted in last year’s point-in-time count, the sixth year in a row the numbers increased, King County continues to be the epicenter of the crisis. Washington, the 13th largest state in America, had the fifth largest homeless population of any state, according to federal data.

15 Things CHS heard at the forum

  1. One of the top concerns of both the panelists and attendees was that organizations don’t have enough money to run their organizations in the most efficient way possible. “Clearly there aren’t enough resources in the city; none of you have enough resources to do your job as well as you would like for it to be done,” one man said. “Clearly the city doesn’t really view it as an emergency. They just want to say it’s an emergency, but they haven’t put the money behind it.” Continue reading

Will workers bring Little Big Burger’s Little Big Union to Capitol Hill? — UPDATE: Now open

(Image: Little Big Union)

Portland’s Little Big Burger is coming to Capitol Hill soon. iIs workers could bring a fast food labor movement here, too.

In mid-March, Little Big Burger workers in Portland, led by staff at one location, went public with their decision to unionize, a rarity for fast food personnel, following issues of safety, scheduling, and what it says are inadequate pay raises. After talking to workers at other locations of the chain, workers realized that their concerns were widespread across restaurants.

“Conditions, you know, needed to change,” said Cameron Crowell, a union member who has worked at Little Big Burger in Portland for two years.

The union’s demands include $5 raises, two weeks of both paid sick leave and vacation time, fair and consistent scheduling ahead of time, and time and a half for all federal holidays, according to its website. Continue reading

Sawant says she will make new push on Seattle rent control, ordinance against ‘Economic Evictions’

(Image: Seattle City Council)

Building on recommendations from the Seattle Renters’ Commission, City Council member Kshama Sawant announced two measures Monday aimed would alleviate some of the burden for Seattle renters. The first is a proposal to enact a Seattle rent control ordinance. The second, the Economic Evictions Assistance Ordinance, would look to protect tenants against substantial rent increases.

“We have two choices,” Sawant said at a Monday morning press conference at City Hall to announce her planned proposals. “One, just sit on our hands and expect that some day, in the distant future, the Democratic establishment will gather the courage to break from the real estate lobby and finally stand with us. We’ve done that kind of waiting for 40 years.”

“Or we can begin the fight here.” Continue reading

With focus on equity and access, here’s the book on Seattle’s $200M+ library levy proposal

The Seattle City Council will hold a public hearing Thursday evening on Mayor Jenny Durkan’s plan for hiking the Seattle Public Library levy up to over $213.3 million in property taxes over the next seven years.

The new proposal, which first needs to be approved — and possibly modified — by the City Council before before voters get to weigh in in early August, would replace the city’s 2012 levy of $123 million, which was fairly easily approved by voters and expires at the end of this year.

“While Seattle’s voters have historically supported our library system, I don’t take their support for granted,” said  Debora Juarez, who chairs the council’s Select Committee on the Library Levy.

The money under the mayor’s plan would increase access to all of the Seattle Public Library’s 26 branches, sustain and raise investments in technology, expand literature purchases, and continue maintenance. Continue reading

From one Capitol Hill to the other, Jayapal spreading the word on Medicare for All — What CHS heard at Saturday’s forum

(Image: @CMTMosqueda1 via Twitter)

Rep. Pramila Jayapal was joined by citywide Seattle City Council members Lorena Gonzalez and Teresa Mosqueda, as well as state Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-White Center, Saturday morning as she implored a packed house at The Summit on Pike to speak out on the importance of Medicare for All.

“It is time to transform our health care system in America,” said Jayapal, who introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019, H.R. 1384, in February. “It is time to make sure that health care is a right and not a privilege reserved only for the luckiest few.”

The Washington Seventh Congressional District leader’s bill, which has 107 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, aims to create a universal Medicare program to cover all Americans with one government-run health plan. This plan would cover hospital visits, primary care, maternity care and prescription drugs as well as dental benefits which came up several times Saturday as a source of financial hardship. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce head Egan Orion challenging Sawant for City Council seat — UPDATE

(Image courtesy Egan Orion)

The field challenging Kshama Sawant for the District 3 Seattle City Council continues to grow as newly-hired Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce head Egan Orion joined the race this week.

Orion, who is also the administrator of the Broadway Business Improvement Area, has long been a fixture in Capitol Hill before taking on a role at the chamber. He began working with Seattle PrideFest, where he is now the executive director, in 2007 and has been organizing what he says is the largest volunteer-driven event in the district with PrideFest Capitol Hill since 2017.

When a sudden accident led the city to revoke a Capitol Hill festival’s license in 2017, Orion and his team quickly stepped in with less than two weeks to set up five blocks worth of programming, a seemingly insurmountable goal. Continue reading

1/19/19: Seattle Womxn’s March starts at Cal Anderson

Despite national controversy and local concerns about diversity and respect for annual MLK Day actions and celebrations, a third year of January marching and organizing for women’s rights activism is coming to Seattle with Cal Anderson again an epicenter of action in only a few short weeks.

Liz Hunter-Keller, the communications chair for Seattle Womxn Marching Forward, which organized the inaugural march in 2017 and has continued to shepherd anniversary events, estimated that 50 to 70 organizations are involved in making this year’s Seattle Womxn’s March a reality.

“There has to be more work and more connection, and more love and more understanding and that comes from deeper experiences, like the ones we’re going to try to provide at Seattle Center,” Hunter-Keller said.

Seattle Women’s March 2019 — UPDATE

The Seattle events haven’t been easy to pull together. The 2018 Women’s March in Seattle was planned by another group as officials and organizers were unsure how many thousands to expect on Capitol Hill. Continue reading

Midtown: Public Square kicked back in review process as board says plan for community art not enough

A plan for adding massive installations of art panels to help the project better reflect the culture and the history of the Central District wasn’t enough to convince area design officials Wednesday night as the Midtown: Public Square mixed-use project was kicked back for yet another round of review.

After a four-hour design review meeting, a blended group of the newly created Central Area Design Review Board and the East Review Board decided to ask the developer and its architects at Weinstein A+U to return with plans for art on the building that is more fully fleshed out.

“What we’re going to want to know is where the art is going to be located, and why it is reinforcing the larger design concepts of the building,” East Review Board chair Melissa Alexander said. “Is it art that is speaking to the larger community? Is it drawing people in? How is that art drawing people into the space?” Continue reading

Gay City has expanded E Pike library and resource center — and Three Dollar Bill Cinema as a new roommate

Time to hit the books (Image: Gay City)

Capitol Hill’s Gay City has opened its new library and resource center on E Pike. It also has a new partner in the expanded space.

Gay City, which promotes wellness in Seattle’s LGBTQ community by providing health services, connecting people to needed resources, allowing for artistic expression, and building community, has maintained a growing library for years. The Michael C. Weidemann LGBT Library, at Gay City first opened in 2009, when the nonprofit inherited the LGBT Lending Library from the closing Seattle LGBT Community Center, and now houses more than 8,000 books..

“It’s really about making our existing resources more accessible,” Gay City executive director Fred Swanson said of the opening of the new, larger facility. “More space means more room for people to access services, and more opportunity for programing through the library.” Continue reading

At Capitol Hill open house on Seattle single-family zoning, calls for big change, affordability

Representatives from the Seattle Planning Commission chose Capitol Hill to meet with community members Monday night to discuss the findings of a report that officials say shows major changes to Seattle’s single-family zoning are “necessary for the city’s future.” CHS stopped through the lobby of 12th Ave Arts to talk with people who showed up.

“Restoring the flexibility in housing types seen in Seattle’s historic residential neighborhoods is critical if the city is to achieve its goals of being a diverse, equitable and sustainable place to live,” a statement on the new “Neighborhoods for All” report reads.

Alex Broner, who says the housing issue is a personal one to him after struggling to afford it in Seattle in the past, thinks this report is a “good foundational step,” but wanted to know how the city transitions from the findings into policy that reflects the suggestions of the commission, which included encouraging more compact development on all lots.

“People whose housing is threatened or who lack housing really start falling down in terms of their ability to take care of themselves in every other way,” Broner, director of the Housing Now advocacy group, said. “It seems like something a society should be able to get its handle on, but we seem not to.”

“It’s only a first step, it’s only a foundation, we have to keep going. We need to, I think, allow these realizations to kind of liberate us from some old ways of thinking.” Continue reading